Blind, deaf and crippled by 25

I have been using a new work allocated laptop with stylus capability over the last few weeks.  Very nice. Of course, at work, I have attached a Bluetooth mouse, keyboard and have a separate monitor. This makes it usable.

Using the laptop at home without the extras reminds me of some of the challenges students must face using laptops or in most cases Chromebooks. These devices have limited screen real estate, small keyboards, and alternative mouse functionality. Without power (ie using battery), they often reduce screen brightness making it hard to see. Yet we expect students to use them each day for significant chunks of the day. Indeed NCEA examinations will require students to use these devices for an increasing number of 3-hour examinations… We also expect students to use earphones to access video content (usually YouTube (frequently these can be heard at the front of the classroom so the volume must be very high!)

All good BUT what about the ergonomics? Once upon a time employees were checked at their workplaces to ensure appropriate health and safety concerns were addressed regarding seating, lighting, posture etc… (And still done in some organisations.) No such concerns for teachers or more importantly students. Hence the title of this blog…

To raise student awareness of risks associated with using their devices I plan to get them to place cotton wool in their ears, apply blindfolds in pairs and sellotape their fingers into a fist shape. And in doing so emulate some of the risks they face if they don’t pay attention to the basics of using devices taking into consideration ergonomics. This will likely be quite a lot of fun and hopefully get the message across. However, on a more serious note how culpable are we (MoE, School Boards) by requiring students use these devices daily without adequate management of ergonomic risks?

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